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Every Day is Earth Day on a Motorcycle

Friday, April 22, 2011
As conservation takes center stage on Earth Day 2011, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) notes the environmental benefits of commuting and traveling on a motorcycle.

American Motorcyclist Association
"Regardless of how you use your motorcycle or scooter -- commuting to work, riding down the block, across town, traveling across the country -- your choice to ride instead of drive has a positive impact on the environment and results in a more enjoyable, less-congested experience for you as well as your fellow road users," said AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman. "For motorcyclists, every day is Earth Day."

In the wake of skyrocketing gas prices, motorcyclists have emerged relatively unscathed. A typical motorcycle can provide fuel mileage that exceeds that of most fuel-efficient automobiles. Many motorcycles return more than 50 miles per gallon, and many scooters can deliver nearly twice that. In addition to using less gasoline, motorcycles require less oil and other chemicals to operate. And the recent introduction of electric motorcycles provides an added benefit for the environment.

Motorcycles take up less space than cars and trucks both during operation, and when parked. They reduce traffic congestion and, in so doing, help increase the efficiency of traffic flow on the road.

Significantly fewer raw materials are utilized to produce motorcycles and scooters compared to cars and trucks. By some measures, it requires thousands of pounds less metal and plastic per vehicle to produce a motorcycle. The environmental benefits are realized both during production, as well as at the end of the vehicle's useful life.

Because motorcycles and scooters are so much more compact and lighter than cars and trucks, they cause far less wear and tear on the highways, reducing the cost and environmental impact of infrastructure repairs. In addition, because of their size, many more motorcycles can be transported from factory to consumer using the same or less energy.

"When you add it all up, there is no question: If everyone rode motorcycles, the planet would be a greener place," Dingman said. "And just as important, more of us would experience the thrill and freedom that motorcycles provide. Riding is not just easy on your bank account and the planet, riding is a fun, and often a social activity that simply makes life more enjoyable."

Those interesting in coming along for the ride are encouraged to visit AmericanMotorcyclist.com > Riding > Getting Started for more information about the benefits of motorcycling.

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JSH   April 26, 2011 10:46 AM
@ Classicrider: Hybrids using NiMH batteries are not the dirtiest vehicles ever. Those types of claims usually stem from the long ago debunked CNW Marketing paper "Dust to Dust" comparing a Prius to a Hummer. While nickel mining is a dirty business, the vast majority of nickel mined is used for steel alloys and plating. There is more nickel in the steel body of a Prius than the 32 lbs of nickel used for the battery. In addition, Toyota will pay $150 for a Prius battery which should greatly help the recycling rate at the end of life. You are correct though about how dirty the emissions of motorcycles are compared to cars. You have to ride something small like the Honda CBR250 with fuel injection and a 3-way catalytic convertor in order to have lower emissions than even a Suburban. Carbon Monoxide (CO) for the CBR250 is 1g/km or 1.6g/mile. That is the same level of emissions as a 6.0L Chevy Suburban. Jump to something like a CBR600RR and CO emission are 4.8 g/m. This is all a matter of public record. The C.A.R.B. emission certifications are @ http://www.arb.ca.gov/msprog/onroad/cert/cert.php#6
classicrider   April 25, 2011 08:09 AM
It is true that Hybrids using Nimh batteries are about the dirtiest vehicles EVER created due to the toxix waste generated in creating those batteries which is also a problem at disposal time. But the new hybrid batteries are litium ion type, which are not so bad. Even so, there is NO consideration for a motorcycle being green at all since they have extremely poor fuel economy as well as producing VERY high levels of the five major polluting gases. Particulate emissions are especially bad with Air Cooled engines largely due to the high levels of piston ring blow by. But oxides of Nitrogen are very high as well, largely due to the high compression ratios and incomplete combustion that occurs with highly tuned engines. There is nothing worse than a Harley-Davidson Air Cooled engine for pollution. CO and CO2 are also very high for the size and weight of the vehicle. It's no joke that surveys have shown pollution rates for motorcycles as high as 90 to 130 times higher than modern cars. Those modern cars are not solely hybrids with nihm batteries. The current modern diesels don't have the toxic waste problem and are inherently cleaner than hybrids except for nitrous oxide, which is being dealt with. Next year Motorcycles are going to have to achieve pollution standards in this country. If they don't whey cannot be sold.
DocNick   April 24, 2011 05:52 PM
ANY motorcycle is greener than a car. It's not just fuel economy, but the energy required to make the vehicle in the first place. A car is much heavier and more complex and requires a lot more energy to manufacture.

Hybrid cars are even less green; in addition to the energy required to manufacture them, there is the ecological nightmare of what to do with the batteries once they go bad.

In addition, cars spend more time idling and stop lights, spitting out pollutants while going nowhere. Bikes slice through traffic more efficiently.

In sum, classicrider is full of it.
jng1226   April 23, 2011 08:44 PM
Classicrider - you are spot on. What a PR BS story from the AMA that could be turned against motorcyclists by any opposing lobby. My MV Agusta F4 1000R is appalling in that it gets about 25mpg on premium fuel. It is absolutely thrilling and my preferred choice of transportation, but an energy-efficiency improvement over a hybrid passenger car it most certainly is not.
classicrider   April 23, 2011 12:52 PM
This article is misleading about how "green" motorcycles are. First of all, a motorcycle which weighs about 600 lbs, typically gets lower fuel economy than a 1700 lbs. small car does. The VW Polo for example averages 78 mpg. That car is not sold in the USA. VW and Opel are both preparing automobiles that will average close to 115 mpg with VW having already created a two seater which tops 285 mpg. Honda's Super Cub can exceed 300 mpg, but is also not sold here. Motorcycles have exceptionally high aerodynamic drag ratios and inefficient high polluting engines. Scientific research has, for example, revealed that Harley-Davidson air cooled V-Twin engines are among the worst polluting from 90 to 130 times as much as a modern automobile (depending on the gas or pollutant monitored). Even with all their Japanese parts and controls the HD engines are among the dirtiest sold anywhere. BMW and Honda make clean running motorcycle engines with triple control catalystic converters which meeting Euro 3 standards. It was the insistence on HD engines meeting this standard that has kept HD out of India for decades. Additionally Motorcycles, with few exceptions are noisy. Some with Vance and Hines pipes for example, are causing communities around the USA to ban motorcycles outright, which is well deserved. The open air cafe's in Bel Air, Maryland are useless and unpleasant solely because of the Harley-Davidson riders.